My Wish for International Women's Day? The End of FGM Once and for All

08/03/2016 12:30 | Updated 08 March 2016

March 8 is International Women's Day, a day calling for "parity" or a level playing field between men and women.

But really, how can there be true parity when young women and girls across the world are still being butchered on the say so of their male masters?

I am talking about something genuinely sinister - the disgusting and immoral practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).

It revolts me that there has never been a single successful prosecution for FGM in the United Kingdom, despite the NHS's own estimate of some 137,000 women and girls having been harmed in this way.

FGM is seen as a "hidden" crime because its victims are often taken from the UK on holiday, and operated upon in their countries of ethnic origin, before returning here quite literally scarred for life.

To begin to confront the sheer wickedness of FGM is to first understand precisely what it is.

There are four types - removing part or all of the clitoris; removing the inner labia; narrowing of the vaginal opening; and extremely harmful procedures to the female genitals including pricking, piercing, cutting, scraping and even burning.

It is absolutely horrific - and becomes yet more horrific when you realise this is done to young girls anywhere from infancy up to the age of puberty.

There are no medical benefits whatsoever to FGM. Quite the opposite, in fact. And it is in any case a practice designed to reduce any sexual pleasure for women in their later lives.

So FGM is not only grotesque child abuse, but a shameful example of the oppression women face in many regions and cultures across the world.

Right now, there will be young girls in the United Kingdom, on this International Women's Day, suffering the consequences of their genitals having been hacked at, without any anaesthetic, with scalpels, razor blades and pieces of glass.

FGM is of course illegal in the UK. It is also illegal to arrange for a child to be taken abroad for FGM. And if caught, offenders face a large fine and a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

But the big word there is "if". Remember, no one has ever been successfully prosecuted for it.

So on this International Women's Day I will be thinking most of the young women and girls that we all as a society are letting down.

We should be not concerned about opposing the cultural differences that are usually cited as justification for these abominable, barbaric assaults on members of the female population.

It is 2016, not 33 AD. We have to stop this butchery, and we have to stop it now.